Closing Time and the Realities of Your Marathon Wedding

For the majority of you, your wedding day will be one of the biggest events you'll ever plan. Dozens of components you're juggling are trying to fall into place. Ideas are being thrown at you from every person you run across. I would also assume you probably have dreams of your own of how your wedding is going to flow. 

After being a part of so many weddings, I’ve come to the conclusion that weddings are part everlasting unification, part Broadway show, and part family reunion all squeezed into a single day (or weekend). So how long should that day really be? Well, that really depends on you, your venue, and what exactly you want to accomplish. Whether it's your dream ceremony, toasts from everyone daring to grab the mic, or people's feet hurting when they leave from dancing so much, you can pretty much dictate exactly how you want people to enjoy your day.

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With this in mind, I’m here to help you create an internal dialogue of how long your wedding should be. First, let's discuss a few pointers:

1. The idea is you have the venue all day - this is not meant for the elopers or the super short half-day weddings (though you could probably apply a little bit of this).

2. You plan on actually having a reception - this is for the party people!

3. You understand that these ideas are also influenced by my own wedding - my ideas might not necessarily vibe with yours so in the end, do what makes you and your partner happy. ALWAYS.

I personally think a 7-8 hour day is perfect (for everyone). This allows for enough time to do all of the important parts of your day comfortably. It's not too long, but it's not too short. If you're having a mid-afternoon or early evening ceremony, your day will likely be getting started around 1-2pm and will roll into the later hours of the night.

So when do I (personally) think your wedding should end?

6-8pm? - Usually people are still wanting to party and will try to find something else to do if the party ends too early. More than likely they'll move on to another bar!

9PM? - Ahhhh, we're just getting warmed up! If we were going out on the town we would just be calling a cab to head out - don't call it quits just yet!

10-11pm? - I think this is the perfect time to end your day. It’s late enough that people feel they got all of the wedding day, but early enough where friends and family can get home safe and at a decent hour.

12am? - Only for the wicked! If you're still rockin', head to the bars and keep the party goin'!

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So what did I do? My wedding ended at 11pm and although I had the best day of my life (2nd to that of my son being born), it was a marathon for some of my guests and family members. Most of our guests had left by 10pm. By 11pm, it was just me and my wife on the dance floor!

No matter what you decide, do everything you can to follow your hearts towards the type of party you want to have. If you aren't dancers don't emphasize the dance portion. If you're late night dance machines, then leave a couple hours for your and your guests to get down and dirty together on the dance floor! Whatever you guys want to do, make it happen. Schedule enough time to truly enjoy every bit of your day without being rushed to do things others may want to do. This is your day and you deserve to love every minute. - Randy

You're engaged, what happens next?

Hooray! You've finally got a ring on your finger and it's perfect. You're glowing in your newly engaged status and you can't wait to start planning you and your fiancé's perfect day, but where do you even start? That's where we come in!

Where's the champagne?

First, celebrate it. This is (hopefully) the only time you'll be engaged and you deserve to enjoy every minute of it. Ok, let's be honest, once you start planning the day/weekend/week it's not all going to rainbows and butterflies, but take some time and let it sink in. Show off your ring (if that's your thing!), drink some champagne, accept some gifts (only if they're offered) and share this time with your family and friends. It's EXCITING!

But wait, who's getting married?

When the wheels start turning, hold on. Planning a wedding is a wild ride and it's all what you make of it. You'll most likely have pressures from family members and expectations to meet. Guilt can be a common form of communication, but let's get one thing straight - this is YOUR wedding. We often see a lot of couples fall under the spell of trying to make everyone happy and here's the truth: you can't. This is your day and while taking other people's desires and wishes into consideration is a really smart thing to do, please don't settle. You only get one day and try to make it everything you want (obviously within reason).

Blagh, who needs a budget?

Got a budget? Set one up! Knowing how much money you're working with and how much you want to spend in each area of your day will really help you draw some lines when you begin talking with vendors. One piece of advice? Do your research. It's great to have a budget, but also keep in mind that you're going to get what you pay for so having a beer budget with champagne taste isn't going to work well with planning your wedding day. Keep it realistic and know what you're really paying for and doing your research will help you figure out what you're comfortable paying.

Let's pick a spot!

Before you begin any other aspect of planning your wedding, finding a venue and picking a date will help guide you in the rest of your decisions. You won't be able to hire any other vendor before you know your date and location, but starting a list of people you want to reach out to is always a great idea. Like we said, starting your research as soon as you're ready is your best bet to know where you want to spend your money and who you really want to work with. 

To hire a planner, or not...that is the question.

This leads us to our next point. To hire a planner or not? This is always a hot question. In personal experience, we're always so excited when brides and grooms decide to invest in having someone help them with their to-do's. Wedding planning is a TON of work and having someone there to guide you along the journey of vendors and meetings and budgets and timelines (the list goes on) can take so much stress off of you and your partner (and your families!) You will have a bajillion decisions to make and a planner (even a day-of-coordinator) can really help ease the tension that inevitably comes a handful of months before the wedding day.

Assemble your crew!

Lastly, once you've set the budget and narrowed down the venue and date, you'll want to figure out who you actually want to work with. While not every wedding is exactly the same, a lot of weddings have the same elements. You'll have a caterer, rentals, a florist, a photographer, a DJ or a band, a videographer, and of course, your wedding stationary. Your vendors will be your lifeline to the final outcome of your dream wedding and you deserve the best. The biggest piece of advice we can offer is that you meet all of your vendors before hiring them. Get to know them, ask them questions, make sure you're a great fit with each other because come your wedding day, you'll have had a lot of interaction with them. 

When it comes to planning weddings, we can't say we're experts, but we know what works and what doesn't. These are just a handful of elements to consider when it comes time to sit down and get to work. It can be overwhelming, but it can also be a lot of fun. The pieces may take a while to fall into place, but your hard work will all pay off when your big day finally arrives.